Higher Education Consultants

Student Retention Indicators Benchmark Report

Study provides new benchmarks for re-enrollment rates at two-year and four-year colleges and universities

February 18, 2013: College degree completion rates have captured significant national attention in recent years. Now a new study has equipped campus leaders to set specific subgoals for degree completion by benchmarking students' rates of progress along the way using indicators of degree completion such as term-by-term, re-enrollment rates for terms two to four and ratios of credit hours completed versus credit hours attempted in terms one and two. 

Findings from the study, based on a November 2012 national poll of campus officials at accredited four-year and two-year undergraduate institutions, break down the usual, annual, first-to-second-year retention rates by providing additional findings:

  • At four-year private institutions, first-year students completed 93 percent of the credit hours they attempted in fall 2011 (median rate) and their re-enrollment for term two was 92 percent at the median. For second-year students, median re-enrollment for term two was 94 percent, and median second-to-third-year retention was 84 percent.
  • At four-year public institutions, first-year students completed 87 percent of the credit hours they attempted in fall 2011 (median rate) and their re-enrollment for term two was 89 percent at the median. For second-year students, median re-enrollment for term two was 93 percent, and median second-to-third-year retention was 81 percent.
  • At two-year public institutions, first-year students completed 77 percent of the credit hours they attempted in fall 2011 (median rate) and their re-enrollment for term two was 81 percent at the median. For second-year students, median re-enrollment for term two was 85 percent, and median second-to-third-year retention was 53 percent.

Specific, median rates of progress are documented for all findings in the study, equipping colleges and universities to set goals and compare institutional performance by private vs. public institution type, by differences at the 25th versus 75th percentile, and, for four-year institutions, by differences between conditionally-admitted vs. non-conditionally-admitted freshmen.

The Noel-Levitz study, titled 2013 Student Retention Indicators Benchmark Report for Four-Year and Two-Year Institutions, includes an appendix with seven recommendations from the Noel-Levitz consulting team for using the benchmarks to make improvements. For a full copy of the study, visit www.noellevitz.com/BenchmarkReports.


About Noel-Levitz

Noel-Levitz is a recognized leader in higher education consulting and research. For 40 years, they have partnered with more than 2,800 campuses to optimize enrollment management and student success through experienced consultation, advanced analytic tools, and campus assessments. 

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